PAGES & CO: TILLY AND THE BOOK WAN­DER­ERS

Hayes & Harlington Gazette - - Family Matters -

by Anna James, HarperCollins Chil­dren’s Books, £12.99 (ebook £7.99)

★★★★★

BOOKS are cer­tainly jour­nal­ist Anna James’ thing, and that love she has for fic­tion is tan­gi­ble in her de­but chil­dren’s novel.

Matilda (Tilly), 11, lives with her grand­par­ents, who run a hig­gledyp­ig­gledy book­shop called Pages & Co. which is bol­stered by in-house cafe baker Jack (you will want to try his Folk Of The Far­away Tree-in­spired honey pop cakes).

Tilly’s mother went miss­ing shortly af­ter Tilly’s birth, leav­ing the young­ster with a lot of ques­tions, which are ex­ac­er­bated when she be­gins bump­ing into her favourite fic­tional char­ac­ters – Alice of Won­der­land and Anne of Green Gables – amongst the store’s book­shelves.

And so be­gin her ad­ven­tures wan­der­ing di­rectly into books. The story has a cosi­ness and warmth to it that’s ir­re­sistible – es­pe­cially if you grew up bury­ing your­self in fic­tion. How­ever, at times it does lack ten­sion; at no point do you feel that Tilly and her side­kick Oskar are in any gen­uine peril, de­spite the creepi­ness of the dour Enoch Chalk, who ap­pears to be fol­low­ing them, and them be­ing faced with the be­head­ing-happy Queen of Hearts.

This lack of drama is com­pounded when the plot’s big re­veal doesn’t quite thwack you with the ‘wow-fac­tor’.

That said, it’s a very lovely and en­chant­ing read, whether you’re a nine-year-old or a 49-year-old. Re­view by Ella Walker

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